The 3 P's of Planning Long Term Travel: Preparation, Patience & Providence

Originally posted March 6, 2016

Perry and I are about to embark on an epic trip.

But this is no two-week vacation.  We are taking a career break for a year (or more) to travel around the world and pursue our creative passions.  It’s taken many months to prepare as we have transformed our 9-5 lives into those of long-term travelers.  Along the way, I’ve found there is a process to it that requires a little bit of planning and a lot of patience.  If you know us, you know I’m a planner, but not very patient, while Perry is very patient but not much of a planner.  Who won the clash of Planning vs. Patience?

Spoiler Alert:  patience.

Don’t get me wrong.  Planning is important.  You aren’t going to wake up one morning and leave a life you have built over many years.  There are definitely practicalities to work through.  But once the plan is set in motion, it turns out waiting is the hardest part (thanks, Tom Petty) and without patience, you won’t get there.   I struggled with this many times and no matter how often my rational side reminded me to ‘be present’ and ‘live fully every day’, it was tough not to fantasize about boarding a time machine that spit me out the day of our departure.    

I hate clichés, but it turns out the old saying is true.  Life happens while you are waiting.

Initially, I didn’t think much about the wait.  With my Type-A personality, I focused on the business of planning.  I’m the person who readies for a vacation by researching the history of a destination, poring over maps and studying restaurant reviews like I’m preparing to take the GMAT.  I also love the practical side of planning.  For me, making lists, building itineraries and packing are all part of the ‘fun’.

But again, this wasn’t to be a vacation.  This was going to be life, just a life on the move for more than a year and there was a lot to consider.

This type of planning forces you to make choices about the type of life you want to live.  There are trade-offs and tough decisions about money.   On the surface, it may seem like a huge sacrifice, but we actually found the trade-off to be liberating.  But even when you make these choices, you won’t hit the road overnight.  Cue the patience.  Unless you have unlimited funds, long-term travel will not happen without the diligence to see it through.

Luckily, Perry is a very disciplined person and helped me cultivate my own inner patience.  Along the way, I discovered providence in the wait. 

And some entertaining stories. 

The decision to experience long-term travel has been the most exciting and transformational undertaking of my life.  I initially thought that life on the road would be the most challenging aspect of this undertaking, but I’m convinced time will show it was preparing for life on road that was more difficult.  

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break down how we came to this decision, and the steps we undertook to ready ourselves.  We call it ‘The 3 P’s.'  Along the way, we discovered a few expected challenges, but many more unexpected joys that made the wait almost as revelatory (we assume!) as the travel itself will be.